Prince Rupert’s downtown core boasts a number of heritage buildings, but the present economy has seen some of them begin to look pretty rundown.
Last week City Hall’s Planning Department hosted its first in a series of meetings to look at ways to help revitalize the downtown drawing from the experiences of local contractors, subcontractors, designers, and representatives from both building supply stores.
City Planner Zeno Krekic told the group since the City’s Development Permit Area Downtown Design Guidelines were updated in 2009, he has received both positive and negative feedback about them.
“The basic gist of the guidelines is to have a creative environment that would attract people and make our town interesting,” Krekic said.
Mark Rudderham of Rupert Wood N’ Steel said it’s tough right now with the downtown core and retailers are really struggling, but he has seen other communities buy into revitalization.
“It’s important to have the guidelines now so that when thing get busier, they’ll be there,” Rudderham said.
The new guidelines have divided exterior building materials into categories, ranging from strongly recommended such as brick and concrete tiling, to discouraged materials being vinyl and stucco.
Rudderham said eliminating stucco on homes makes sense, but stucco should remain an option for businesses because big stores that come in will use that type of exterior. The problem, he said, is that Prince Rupert has seen both good and bad examples of stucco.
When it comes to vinyl siding, the group agreed it’s not suitable for the first ten feet of a building because it’s not a fire retardant. There are some nice looking vinyl, durable wood-like or architectural metals, but those are often more costly.
“Perhaps you could make exceptions and let people have vinyl on some sections of the buildings,” suggested designer Polly Rudderham. “Building owners could use a combination of materials to save costs.”
Brian Hunchuk of Home Hardware described an event in Kamloops where a dream home is built by suppliers, carpentry students, contractors, and trades people working together.
“We could roll that over and do something on the commercial side. There are people out there that want to showcase their products,” Hunchuk suggested.
Blaine Dieter of Dodge Cove wondered if local building supply stores could help by hosting special displays of different building materials to give people an idea of what’s available.
“Prince Rupert’s here to stay and we need to plan for the long term,” Dieter said.
Krekic said the next meeting will take place February 16 at 7 p.m. in City Hall Chambers.